Since the arrests of reporters did not stop Bitter Winter, China escalates the campaign against our magazine and adopts extraordinary measures to prevent the leaks of secret documents.
Bitter Winter reported on August 1 that several reporters that have sent information and documents to our magazine were arrested in China. The hunt for our correspondents and the arrests continue, and we are publishing new details on the campaign against Bitter Winter.
The incident that persuaded the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to launch a nationwide crackdown against Bitter Winter was an article we published on May 18, 2018, which included the reproduction of the confidential Plan for the Special Campaign on Legal Investigation and Prosecution of South Korean Christian Infiltrations, directed at the house churches established by South Korean Christian groups in China. We have now learned that the publication of this top-secret document created problems in the relationships between China and South Korea.
As a result, CCP issued another secret document, which we publish today, whose English translation reads as follows:
“Bitter Winter, an overseas hostile website, published an article named ‘CHINA LAUNCHES A SPECIAL CAMPAIGN TO CRACK DOWN ON SOUTH KOREAN CHRISTIAN GROUPS,’ relating to the sub-projects and attaching images of the special campaign conducted in various provinces, cities, and counties. This article has been reproduced and hyped by some hostile media outlets outside the border. The contents published on the website raise the suspicion that they may also have illegally obtained the document “Plan for the Special Campaign on Legal Investigation and Prosecution of South Korean Christian Infiltrations,” which was jointly produced by the Central United Front Work Department, the Ministry of Public Security, and State Bureau of Religious Affairs. According to the demand of the Ministry of Public Security, the Provincial Department of Public Security has filed a special case to trace the source of the confidentiality leakage, firmly crack down on any illegal perpetration on suspicion of lawlessly obtaining the state confidential information, illegally possessing the state confidential information, secret documents, material, items, and intendedly leaking the state confidential information. The special case should be reported to the departmental supervisor. A sub-case should be filed in a unified code, and immediate investigations relating to the special campaign against the confidentiality leakage should be conducted.”
The result of this document was a national manhunt, leading to the arrest of dozens of correspondents of Bitter Winter. The fact that, meanwhile, we published another top-secret document, the action plan against the movements listed as xie jiao (“heterodox teachings”) for 2018-2019, presumably did not endear us to the CCP either.
We are informed that the CCP, following its best traditions, is also preparing a campaign of fake news against Bitter Winter and is busy producing false documents “proving” that we are “connected” with several groups included in the list of xie jiao.
Our latest information, dated August 2, is that the CCP lost confidence in the ability of the local Public Security Bureaus, and perhaps of Office 610, which specializes in fighting xie jiao, to crack down on Bitter Winter, and the Chinese Ministry of State Security is now taking over the investigations on the case. This campaign is in turn classified as top-secret, and its details have only been shared with officers ranked at the level above PSB (Public Security Bureaus), including leaders ranked as directors of sections or above in the departments of PSB, Procuratorates, Courts of Law, Justice Bureaus, and so on. Investigations are being conducted on a comprehensive scale.
Due to the leaks to Bitter Winter, the CCP is also organizing a new “confidentiality education” programs among the units in the realm of politics and law, asking relevant personnel to take measures to secure confidentiality, and warning that any breach of the security protocol will be severely punished.